The family of the man shot and killed by Las Cruces Police officers after he allegedly lunged at them with a hunting knife tell ABC-7 they want to mourn in peace.
Police say Juan Gabriel Torres was suspected of robbing a man and stealing his truck when he approached officers holding a knife on Lohman Avenue by the I-25 overpass a week ago.
Police say Torres refused to drop the knife and officers shot him when he lunged at them. He later died.
Torres' family said Monday they are now the target of harsh criticism. The mother of Torres' three children, Maggie Calderon, says people have attacked her children on social media.
"(They say) there's one less criminal on the streets, he got what was coming to him," Calderon said.
Calderon says she's hurt over the backlash. She's also angry over a video posted by a witness on Facebook that appears to show officers shooting her children's father several times.
"They didn't have to shoot him six times. They could've tazed him or shot him in the leg but they didn't have to kill him," Torres' 14-year-old daughter Breeana said.
Torres' children were in tears while looking at old family photos Monday. Calderon tells ABC-7 their father was in and out of jail their entire life. "I understand people were scared and the knife was big, but when he stole the vehicle from the 86-year-old man, he didn't harm him," she said.
Calderon says her cousin told them Torres was depressed. She says she believes that's why he acted out.
Police have not confirmed how many times officers shot Torres. Las Cruces Police Chief Jaime Montoya stated last week officers had no choice but to respond with deadly force.
Monday, ABC-7 learned the two officers who fired their weapons have returned to duty after being on paid administrative leave.